Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Virginia Marriage Amendment: Two Years Later

Today's Virginian Pilot has an article looking at the impact of the anti-gay "Marriage Amendment" passed in Virginia in 2006 and the practice of same sex couples still continuing to get married or hold commitment ceremonies even though the state will not recognize their unions. The piece also has disingenuous quotes from gay-hater extraordinaire, Victoria "Ice Maiden" Cobb (in my opinion, having sex with her would out one at risk of frost bite and amputation) of The Family Foundation, the Virginia affiliate of Daddy Dobson's homophobic Focus on the Family. The moral of the article is that gays WILL persevere with dignity even if those who hate us try to denigrate our relationships. Here are some highlights:
Buddy Rau says two things nudged him into tying the knot earlier this year: his 40th nniversary with gay partner Kila Chong and the 2006 state constitutional amendment banning gay arriage.
Two years after Virginians passed the amendment, the measure hasn't stopped some same-sex couples from celebrating extra legal holy union or commitment ceremonies at liberal churches.
Meanwhile, faith-based advocates of the amendment contend the measure helped preserve Virginia law prohibiting gay marriage and fended off legalization of same-sex unions popping up elsewhere.
It was a harsh, severe slap in the face," said Glen Coats, who grew up in Chesapeake. "It's filled with vitriolic hate for a certain segment of the population in the way it was worded." Coats, a research analyst, said he and his 16-year partner had a holy union ceremony years ago and had no marriage plans. What they fear, instead, is wording in the amendment they think could allow outsiders to meddle in their wills and affect their ability to inherit property from one another.
Coats, 54, is so concerned about the potential consequence of that text, he said, that he and his partner might leave Virginia when they retire. "It doesn't feel like home anymore," he said. Same-sex couples who stay can at least have a symbolic, religious union ceremony at churches such as New Life Metropolitan Community Church, The Great Awakening United Church of Christ, Norfolk's Unitarian Church and the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists congregation. All offered union ceremonies before the amendment.
"Whenever two adults come forward and say, 'We want to do this with the witness of our community and our notion of God,' then of course I want to say, 'Yes, yes, yes, let's do that. Who cares what the state is doing?' " said the Rev. Jennifer Ryu of the Williamsburg church.
"We decided that a church that welcomes you, no matter who you are, is a good one to get married in," Chong said. . . . It absolutely meant something to me," Chong said. "I thought that we look to a God who's all-loving." It meant something else as well. "It helped us tell the God-fearing people who voted for the amendment: the heck with you," Chong said. "You don't want us, but we want each other, and our friends want us."


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,
I love your blog and look forward to reading it on a regular basis. While I am not gay, I see LGBT as the next civil rights obstacle that must be overcome.

Your topic here about Virginia's vote was a disappointment to me as well. The sad thing is that some people did not even understand how to read this issue on the ballot. (Voting yes meant no, and no meant yes!) Of course the churches were quite successful in telling folks how to vote. And we knew how to vote because we were actively supporting gay marriage. But the masses of people that just believed to "live and let live" voted "yes" for gay marriage which was really a "yes" to BAN gay marriage.

The other misunderstanding over this ballot issue was that it was only about gay marriage. It was actually about any couple that may not want a legal marriage, but wanted to share their lives together and be recognized as life partners by the State of Virginia. Sharing a home, supporting one another - but still not close enough to visit in ICU. Hmmm, not quite right.

As we become older and our mortality is staring us in the face, we should have the right to have a life partner for companionship and support without the concern that should our partner become gravely ill or die, we could lose everything to the absent child that was missing until time to claim the assets.

After 13 years of living with my life partner, we decided to get legally married in December following this vote against our lifestyle. Yes, we love each other but never saw marriage in the eyes of the State as necessary for verification of that love. Our gay friends educated us to why marriage is important from a legal standpoint. And so we tied the knot at the courthouse one afternoon - because we could - a very basic right that everyone should have.

I hope our gay friends will have this right soon.

Newport News

Michael-in-Norfolk said...


Yes, the amendment while advertised by its supporters as the "No Gay Marriage Ammendment" actually impacted ALL couples, gay or straight - which was the real agenda. Punish anyone who doesn't conform to one set of religious standards.

Besides gays, those really hurt are many senior couples who cannot marry because to do so would mean the loss of a deceased spouse's health plan or retirement benefits. The Amendment was indeed very mean spirited and actually had little to do with "protecting marriage." Rather it was all about enshrining one particular religious dogma into the state constitution.

Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.